The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll revealed a scary statistic: nine in 10 of the uninsured are unaware that open enrollment begins in November. Not only are there major awareness gaps among the uninsured, but there’s also confusion among those who enrolled last year. As the second open enrollment period approaches, there are a lot of changes heading our way. Not sure how they impact you? Here’s a snapshot of the four key changes, and why they matter to you:
- The penalty for not purchasing insurance increased. This year, the tax penalty assessed to those who do not purchase insurance will increase to $325 or 2 percent of household income – whichever is greater. That’s a lot to pay to not have health and financial protection.
- The enrollment period is only three months – half as long as last year. Furthermore, consumers only have 30 days – until Dec. 15, 2014 – to avoid a coverage gap by enrolling in coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. This shorter enrollment period makes it even more important to start looking at your options now. Waiting until the last minute will result in longer hold times and less opportunities for one-on-one enrollment assistance
- Michigan’s Marketplace is more competitive. With 16 carriers offering plans on the Marketplace, Michigan is among the most competitive states in the country. Blue Cross more than doubled its product choices– from 18 to 41– to address consumer requests for new options to meet a broader spectrum of health and financial needs. So even if you’re happy with your plan, make sure you look at what else is out there to ensure you’re getting the best value.
- Federal tax subsidies have changed. People’s federal tax subsidies will likely shift – either because their income has changed or because the cost of the benchmark silver plan used to calculate the tax credit has changed. If you received financial help last year, you need to visit HealthCare.gov and log into your Marketplace account. Your 2015 application will be pre-filled, but you’ll have to click through each page and make a few updates to your financial and dependant information. Not only does this prevent you from being impacted at tax time, but you also might be eligible for lower costs than last year.
One last tip: Before choosing a health plan, make sure you know exactly what you’re singing up for. Will you be able to visit your preferred doctor(s)? Are your prescriptions covered? What are your total costs (not just monthly)? For example, how much will you have to pay if you go to urgent care or the hospital? How high is your deductible and can you afford a bill from an unexpected issue? These types of questions will ensure you’re in the right plan for your health and financial needs. For more health insurance tips visit bcbsm.com/101 or follow the hashtag #Covered101 on our social channels. If you have a specific question, please submit your query online through our Customer Action Center. Photo Credit: Stephen Ticehurst